The Forklift Industry—Reaching New Heights in the U.S.
Material handling is defined as the movement, protection, storage and control of materials and products throughout manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, consumption, and disposal. Lift trucks are an essential part of the process and used in virtually every industry. The chances are that most of the products you use every day have spent time on a pallet and were touched by a forklift at least once, perhaps even dozens of times.
Recently, the Industrial Truck Association with Oxford Economics released, “Lifting America. The Economic Impact of Industrial Truck Manufacturers, Distributors and Dealers.”  The report is an in-depth study of the lift truck industry and highlights its numerous economic contributions. The report indicated strong markets both globally and in the U.S. This is good news for those of us in the industry, particularly the 24,000 plus workers employed in the manufacturing of forklifts. As annual sales in the U.S. have grown to over 200,000 units , many sectors benefit from the well-being of the industry. For example, support services including retail, leasing, and rental operations; distribution and logistics; and training, maintenance, and repair services all benefit from the demands for forklifts. And these support activities generate additional economic value throughout the U.S. economy. Here we refer to some of the key indicators driving the growth:
- Worldwide, lift truck orders doubled since the 2009 Great Recession. The US had an increase of nearly 150 percent during the period. The increase is partly due to the need for upgrading and replacing aging capital equipment.
- Forklifts facilitate the production of goods and service which in turn creates increased efficiencies. They play an essential role in the production process for almost every industry.
- The rise of e-commerce and mega warehouses to fulfill online orders. The growth in this sector directly affects the demand for forklifts as they store and move products.
- Increasing demand for fast delivery of products has pushed for improvements in logistics and distribution. New advancements in lift truck technology have facilitated the development; helping to streamline operations, reduce costs, and increase the bottom line.
Technology and design advancements in the lift truck industry have been instrumental in helping to meet the high demands of material handling. This technology can directly influence improvements in efficiency. According to the report some of the new advancements include:
- Automated Guided Vehicles and Automated Lift Trucks – AGV technology allows lift trucks to navigate through tight quarters. The safety systems of AGVs are critical in very narrow aisle operations; helping to reduce accidents and damage to goods.
- Telematics – Telematics/fleet management systems provide invaluable information to improve maintenance, repairs, and environmental demands of forklifts.
- Integrated Mobile Applications – Mobile technology with specialized applications help streamline operations and thereby reducing costs.
Crown’s InfoLink advances the innovations in lift truck technology. Lift truck-based sensors, secure wireless data transmission, and a cloud-based management portal provides maximum benefits with minimal equipment installation and expense.  InfoLink modules can be installed on entire fleets: electric and gas forklifts, non-Crown lift trucks, other vehicles and stationary equipment. The integrated system connects lift trucks, operators, and facilities to collect accurate, real-time
In conclusion, the Industrial Truck Association and Oxford Economics report establishes the lift truck industry as having a significant impact on the US economy. The growth experienced in recent years has contributed to steady employment in the design, manufacturing, distributing, servicing, and operation of forklifts. Additionally, the wages earned by these workers contribute to consumer spending which in turn brings additional benefits to the economy. Demand for forklifts, other industrial trucks, and associated services exists in every state throughout the US.
In Northeastern Pennsylvania, Action Lift is proud to be a part of the lift truck industry for over 32 years. We offer the best product lines in the industry and are ready to be your material-handling solutions partner.